Living with Physical Scars Caused by FGM

The following article is the result of research by Global Woman Newsletter.  During the research on physical scars, we obtained various images which we feel are graphically inappropriate to share with the general public.        

What are the scars left behind by female genital mutilation (FGM)?  There are the psychological scars, which are not visible; however the actual physical scars that are left after open wounds are sealed generally cause adverse pain and difficulty.  As you already know, FGM is the intentional removal of either all or part of the external female genitalia, for no medical reason whatsoever.  External female genitalia include the clitoris, labia majora, labia minora, pubis, urethra and the vaginal opening.  The excision of the external female genitalia can cause extreme damage to each part, not to mention the reproductive system.

Tissue damage and scarring are two of the many results of FGM.  This can cause trapped or unprotected nerve endings.  During the process of FGM, the nerve endings and sensitive genital tissue might be cut, which causes extreme pain.  In some cases, there can be tissue swelling, pain and injury to the urethra, which could lead to excruciating pain, infections and abnormal scarring.     

If the clitoral artery or other blood vessel is cut during the excision, excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging can be the result. Tissue swelling is the cause of inflammation and local infection, and infections could spread if contaminated instruments are used during and after excision.  In most rural areas where FGM is performed the use of unsterilized instruments is common.  The exciser might be known to use the same instrument on several girls at a given time, without sterilization. 

There are several types of scarring resulting from FGM.  The formation of keloids is caused from excessive scar tissue at the site of the excision.  Keloid scarsresult from slow and incomplete healing of the wound and the production of excess scar tissue. These scars might obstruct the vaginal opening and be so extensive that they prevent penile penetration.  Medical reports show that abscessesdevelop due to deep infection resulting from faulty healing or an embedded stitch causing the formation of an abscess.  Vulvar abscess is a common gynecologic problem that has the potential to result in severe illness.  These abscesses typically originate as simple infections that develop in the vulvar skin or subcutaneous tissues.  Neurinoma can develop when the dorsal nerve of the clitoris is cut or trapped in a stitch or in scar tissue. The surrounding area becomes hypersensitive and unbearably painful.  Then there are dermoid cysts, whichresult from inclusion of the epithelium (the thin tissue forming the outer layer of the surface and lining the canal and other hollow structures) during healing, leading to swelling or pockets producing secretion. This type of cyst varies in size, and can be extremely painful and prevents sexual intercourse.

Partial or total blockage or closing of a blood vessel can cause serious difficulties with menstruation and in most cases result in dysmenorrhoea, also known as painful periods, or menstrual cramps; or amenorrhea, which is also the absence of menstruation or missed menstrual periods.  Another problem that stems from bad scarring is called Haematocolpos, which occasionally occurs when there is menstrual blood retention, especially when the scarring causes the labia to merge with another part of the vagina.

When medical professionals are inadequately trained in FGM, it leads to physical and psychological consequences. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to fully understand their role in helping address the health complications of FGM.  It is also important for them to know how to recognize and tackle this issue.

The formation of these cysts, abscesses, keloids, and heavy scarring causes long-term consequences, such as complications during childbirth.  This can also cause damage to the urethra, which results in urinary incontinence, painful sexual intercourse, sexual dysfunction, and hypersensitivity of the genital area.

If you are reading this article, and you are currently living with the consequences of FGM, or dealing with any of the problems mentioned above, there might be a remedy for that.  If you are already familiar with the genital restorative surgery, then you would understand that such a surgery will help provide relief for you.  If you are unfamiliar with the restorative surgery, you may contact Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation for additional information at The restorative surgery was developed by the renowned French Urologist, Dr. Pierre Foldes of the “Women Safe Center” in Paris.  Dr. Foldès has been generous in sharing his creation and knowledge with other surgeons.  One of the surgeons with whom Foldes shared his knowledge and trained is American Gynecologic Surgeon, Dr. T. Wayne Bloodworth of the “Surgery Center for FGM” in Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S.  Dr. Bloodworth has more than thirty-five years of surgical experience.  The Surgery Center for FGM is America’s first and only non-profit center for the exclusive treatment of FGM. The Center in Atlanta, Georgia is funded completely by donations and grants, which allow them to provide their services at no cost to the patient.  They are a multi-disciplinary Center, devoted solely to patients of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The surgery entails the reversal of FGM, by surgically reconstructing the genitalia. “The procedures focus on restoring function and removing the scarring and complications of FGM in patients whose lives have been so tragically impacted,” according to the Center.  The SurgicalCenter also offers psychological counseling and educational training for medical personnel.  They also offer counseling with certified counselors and if necessary, physician psychiatrists.  It is their goal to help erase the nightmare that FGM creates in a woman.  According to the Surgery Center, they believe that the holistic approach to the FGM patient provides a more rapid recovery of birth anatomy, body integrity and sense of wholeness.  Located at 10680 Medlock Bridge Rd, Suite 102, Johns Creek, GA 30097, the Surgery Center told Global Woman Newsletter that within less than a year of opening, they have had patients from various points in the United States and even other countries in the world.  Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is pleased to partner with the Surgery Center for FGM.  So you do not need to live with the physical scars of FGM for the rest of your life.  There is help, only a phone call or email away.

Coming up next week, we have a special personal story to share with you!  Make sure you look out for it.

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